Isaiah 1:10–31, Habakkuk 1:2–4, Luke 17:5–10
In many courtrooms, there is an image or a statue of Lady Justice. Lady Justice is the supposed personification of the ideal judicial system: blind (no favoritism), sword (swift and cutting decision), scales (balance of “good” and “evil”), toga (justice as a philosophy). Most of us recognize that this is the ideal. Every human justice system is exactly that…human.
Our sense of justice, our philosophy of justice, should be based upon and informed by the Scriptures. Israel and the Jews would have agreed with that statement in concept. Sadly, just like today, concept and reality are not in line. This is God’s point through Isaiah. All the rites are being followed, but the heart of God is not. By not fulfilling and following the heart of God, the Jews were spoiling (as in making rotten) their sacrifices to God. Who wants rotten meat?
There are many cries for justice, and many are good calls. Far too many appear aligned more for political gain than actual justice. And this is also rotten. Yes, the right thing is being done…for the wrong reason. Or, the right thing is being done but is contaminated by the wrong thing also being done by the same people.
Habbakuk’s cry out for help sounds like so many people. Really, though, it goes along the line of a person talking to God, “There is so much injustice, cruelty, and pain in the world. Why aren’t you doing something about it?” Then God responds, “funny, I was going to ask you the same question.”
It’s Jesus’ words, though, that may shine the real light on the issue. Pride. Jesus points out that servants should not be seeking praise for fulfilling their duties. Yet, there seems a pervading current of recognition that fills the church.
1) If we do the right things to grow the church, are they really the right thing?
2) If we do the right things to build the Kingdom, are they really the right thing?
3) If we do the right things because they are what God called us to do, but they don’t build the church, don’t build the kingdom, are they still the right thing?